Bobby Wood is all smiles now at Hamburg, but he may never have been a football player if his childhood had gone differently. - © 2019 DFL
Bobby Wood is all smiles now at Hamburg, but he may never have been a football player if his childhood had gone differently. - © 2019 DFL

Bobby Wood: 10 things on Hamburg's USA striker

Like most kids in Hawaii, a career in soccer wasn't always top of Bobby Wood's to-do list. presents 10 biographical tidbits on the Hamburg and USA striker, who has his mum partly to thank for making it big...

1) In the name

Born in Hawaii to an African-American father and Japanese mother, Wood's full name is Bobby Shou Wood. His middle name means 'longevity' in Chinese, and though he dropped its use early in his professional career, the striker's journey so far suggests that the meaning still resonates with him.

2) Football vs. soccer

Looking back, Wood admits he wanted to play American Football rather than soccer.

"I mean, really, I just wasn’t a soccer-crazy kid," he told the Players' Tribune. "In fact, a few years earlier when my mom signed me up to play for the first time, I was pissed when I found out what she had done. I wanted to be a football player — the helmet, shoulder pads, tackling guys to the ground. All that stuff."

3) The carpooling goalkeeper

Eventually, Wood's career path boiled down to convenience.

"My mom worked a lot, and it turned out that one of the women who used to drive me to school had signed her son up to play soccer. So that meant I was playing soccer too," he recalled.

Wood admits he wasn't up to much, and initially started out as a goalkeeper.

"They put me between the pipes. 'Alright, Bobby, you just go in goal and we’ll take it from there,'" my coach told me, waving to the other end of the pitch.

"So, I just took it one day at a time. I didn’t know all the rules, but I knew I had one job: Do not let the ball go in the goal. And you know what? I actually wasn’t that bad. But my coach noticed something else: my speed. He tried me out at striker and for a few weeks I pulled double duty."

4) Record-breaker

The rest is history. Wood outgrew Powder Edge SC and, after moving to California, headed out some 6,000 kilometres away to Germany and TSV 1860 Munich's youth academy at just 14.

He worked his way up through the ranks, before making his senior debut in January 2011.

Following 24 appearances for Munich and a loan stint at Erzgebirge Aue, Wood joined Union Berlin and concluded the 2015/16 season with 17 goals as the capital outfit finished sixth in Bundesliga 2, earning himself a summer transfer to what was then the Bundesliga's only ever-present club, Hamburg.

Wood's goal haul took him past former Borussia Dortmund and 1. FSV Mainz 05 striker Conor Casey as the highest-scoring American in a single season in Germany's top two divisions.

Watch: Bobby Wood's record-breaking brace

5) Obsessed with Thierry Henry

Despite being immersed in German football since the age of 14, Wood's favourite team growing up was Arsenal FC, and their talisman Thierry Henry his sporting idol.

"Most of the time, I’d get up early to watch Arsenal and Thierry Henry," Wood recalled. "I don’t know what it was about Henry — maybe it was because he was a striker, too — but the way he moved on the pitch just mesmerized me. He sort of just … glided. There were no tricks or anything to his game, and the way he scored goals was so pure. It was amazing to see."

6) Dodgers fan

Outside of football, Wood is an avid fan of other, more traditional, American sports. Wood enjoys bodysurfing in his native California, plays basketball in his spare time, and once even threw the first pitch after enjoying a stadium tour of Major League Baseball's Los Angeles Dodgers' home venue.

7) Hawaiian pride

Wood made his USA debut in a 4-3 friendly win over Bosnia-Herzegovina in Sarajevo in August 2013, becoming just the second man from the 50th and most recent US state to run out for the USMNT after Brian Ching, and the third player to represent the nation outright, following the USWNT's Olympic gold medallist Tasha Kai.

8) Advice

It could have worked out so differently. Wood had scored just six goals in 63 games in his first six Bundesliga 2 campaigns with 1860 and FC Erzgebirge Aue before he got a stern word from then US coach Klinsmann. "You've got to make it this year, otherwise they're going to move you on," Klinsmann told the young forward. "That's how it works in Europe. At the age of 21, 22, you're an old player." Wood heeded the advice. "What he said to me was the truth; it wasn't a threat… but I'm where I am now because I worked hard to get here."

9) Place in history

When he signed for Hamburg in the summer of 2016, Wood became the sixth US player to turn out for the Red Shorts: Peter Woodring, Michael Mason, Benny Feilhaber and current Stuttgart player Julian Green have also represented HSV since Hungary-born Andy Mate became the first American to play in Germany's top flight back in the 1964/65 season. The 25-year-old announced his arrival the club in some style, too, scoring on his debut and with his first shot in the Bundesliga during a 1-1 draw with Ingolstadt.

Watch: Wood's Top 5 Goals!

10) Friends

Wood enjoys close friendships with USMNT teammates DeAndre Yedlin and John Anthony Brooks. Wolfsburg stalwart Brooks and Wood overlapped for one year in the German capital when the former was still a Hertha Berlin player. In 2016, all three attended the NBA's Western Conference Finals between the Golden State Warriors and Oklahoma City Thunder together.